Commerce and Burgum staff listen to ideas for the future of the hospital | News, Sports, Jobs
Officials from the North Dakota Department of Commerce and the Bank of North Dakota joined with members of a steering committee of the Good Samaritan Hospital Association to discuss the future of the Heart of America Medical Center building on the 24th. May in the hospital.
The visiting group included Trade Commissioner James Leiman, Jace Beehler, who is chief of staff to Governor Doug Burgum, Maria Effertz-Hanson, head of community development for the Department of Commerce and Deputy Commissioner Shawn Kessel. Kylee Merkel represented the Bank of North Dakota at the meeting. They all met with the HAMC Fox Auditorium Steering Committee.
The state government and banking officials listened to the ideas and concerns expressed by members of the steering committee regarding the planned construction of a new hospital and how to reuse the existing hospital building, a structure some of which parts date from the 1940s.
HAMC CEO Erik Christenson outlined the five-phase plan for the new hospital, which began last year with a strategic plan and recommendations after accounting firm Wipfli of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, analyzed the situation of the hospital in its current building, located on the main avenue.
“It’s very old, built in the 1940s and measures 150,000 square feet and we only need 70,000”, Christenson said, describing some of the problems with the hospital building. “It’s a poorly distributed cost ratio”, he added, describing the financial problems discovered by Wipfli. “So we’re losing about $ 2.3 million a year by staying here.”
Christenson added, “We have passed phase 1 with Wipfli and we are entering phase 2 with the USDA”, noting that the hospital would apply for a loan for community facilities for construction. “We are looking for a brand new site and a brand new facility. So we’re looking to spend close to $ 45 million. It’s a huge project for the community and a huge project for the state.
Christenson said he and members of the steering committee called the meeting to discuss ideas for using the hospital building once the HAMC moves to its new location. Christenson estimated that the land would be broken up on the site of the new building, located across from Farm Credit Services on U.S. Highway 2, in 18 months.
To afford the new project, the HAMC would not have a long-term care center and nursing homes in the new facility.
Two North Dakota lawmakers, Representative Dick Anderson from District 6 and Representative Jon Nelson from District 14, attended the meeting. Nelson told the group that the health center could play a key role in the future of the hospital.
“We have a 45-bed nursing home upstairs, a memory unit on the third, and then the second floor is the skilled nursing facility. We also have a city-wide basic care center, a six-bed assisted living center and a 37-bed assisted living center, all of which are part of the association ”. Christenson told the group. “The biggest concern of the community is, can we afford it and what should we do with the health center? And that was the discussion here. Do we redesign the current structure of the health center and keep it here to try to use that structure? “
“We belong to 22 churches in the region. They are very worried about it. They don’t want this building to turn into a nest of pigeons, ” Christenson added.
Beehler asked members of the steering committee if moving the hospital to a new location would negatively impact downtown businesses. Kevin Leier, vice president of Rugby Economic Development Corporation and member of the steering committee, told Beehler that renovating the current structure would cost $ 7 million more than building a new facility.
The group discussed various uses of the old building, including keeping the health center there and using part of the structure as a community center. Leier described installing a massive glass wall in the building, “Where longtime residents on one side can still interact with what’s going on.” Leier said he could imagine his four-year-old “Bouncing on a gym mat (in the community center), and a longtime resident 85 continues to see this happening, even if you were to lock this facility down,” a reference to one-year lockdowns in nursing homes due to COVID-19.
Leier said the idea would require a significant financial investment “That I don’t think our community can handle. We are already at 7% sales tax and we are a fairly conservative community with property taxes. “
Two percent of the local sales tax goes to the Rugby government, while five percent goes to the North Dakota state government.
Judge Michael Hurly, also a member of the Steering Committee, recalls seeing his young children playing at Disney World. Said hastily when the kids have an open space, “They will run. I also remember that when we were young all the old people smiled. And that’s why I really embraced this idea, because it really reinvents the way we deliver long-term care in the future. The community needs a raffle. The stars are aligned to solve many problems ”, Said hastily.
Hurriedly said that if the building was abandoned, “In five years, it will be the scourge. And no one will want to develop it because there will be so many problems.
Kessel, Effertz-Hanson, and Merkel described federal, state, and private programs that could provide loans or grants for various suggested uses for the current hospital building, depending on whether the space was used for public, private space. or combined commercial and government.
Members of the steering committee raised a suggestion from Pierce County Commissioner Ashley Berg who said the space could be used for hotel rooms. Kessel told the group, “This is currently happening in Grand Forks at the Canad Inn.
Kessel told the group that the space also has rental potential for weddings and other gatherings.
Effertz-Hanson discussed the possible use of the space for vocational and technical training programs.
“If it’s redone, the amount of tax revenue that could be taken from the city to help with additional projects like the community center, et cetera, is huge,” Beehler noted, adding that the community would see the most success in hosting a mix of commercial and government spaces. “When you invest private money in an existing infrastructure, this is the highest return on investment you get for the community”, he explained.
Officials also presented information on the renaissance areas and how the relocation of Rugby City offices to the old hospital building could expand the Rugby rebirth area to include the building. The area currently ends just north of the hospital location.
The group also heard Merkel present information on the Bank of North Dakota’s revolving infrastructure loan fund for the new facility.
“Keep us up to date with what’s in the toolbox and what might be there,” Nelson asked state officials. “We are limited to rural North Dakota with some of the financing options. If there is any progress we can make, and I think we will have a real opportunity to do so, I would be more than willing to discuss it and I can start it in the Prairie Room if I have to ”. he added.
“There is so much to do here and I’m going to have to lean on other experts here in the community to make it happen because I think we have to do it,” Christenson told the group. “I don’t think there’s a ‘maybe we should’,” he said about to go ahead with the new facility. “There is going to be an end to this. This organization will not be able to maintain itself in this building as it currently functions. “
Christenson said he hopes the Rugby City government will increase its stake in the hospital plan. “This involves a large part of the community”, he said.
After the meeting ended, Nelson and government officials visited Rugby’s employment development office.